Ultrasound developments in Europe
Portability and flexibility of application in ultrasound imaging are increasingly important factors in purchase decisions for many European physicians for both physician’s office and bedside use.
Two recently launched Doppler ultrasound systems from Oxford Instruments (Abingdon, England) and Dynamic Imaging (Livingston, Scotland) are both designed for use in obstetric applications and also for peripheral vascular examinations for the diagnosis of arterial and venous disease. The Sonicaid 421 from Oxford Instruments is operated by a rechargeable battery and has a line of four interchangeable probes – two for the detection of the fetal heart from very early in the antenatal period right through to labor and delivery. Two additional probes are provided for peripheral vascular applications.
The Concept D from Dynamic Imaging provides duplex Doppler ultrasound in a fully portable format. Dynamic Imaging has provided a wide selection of probes with frequency ranges of 2.25 MHz to 10.0 MHz to provide good B-mode sector imaging. A lightweight multipurpose mobile unit, the Panther 2002ADI ultrasound scanner from B 2 K Medical (Gentofte, Denmark) may not be portable, but provides significantly greater flexibility of operation, making it suitable for operating theater, clinic or physician’s office applications. CFM, power Doppler, Triplex, steerable and spectral capabilities are standard and a HiRes function provides clear, abdominal imaging beyond 21 cm.
Pricing of ultrasound systems has become very important in current medical conditions throughout Europe. Since the beginning of this decade, prices have fallen generally by as much as 25%, although price reductions for smaller portable units have generally been less. In spite of this increasingly competitive environment, the overall European ultrasound market is continuing to expand, albeit at a modest rate of 1.8% to 2% annually, as increasingly user-friendly product designs, compactness and mobility encourage greater use and a wider range of applications.
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